Coup in Niger—Has Europe Lost Africa?

Supporters of the Nigerien defence and security forces gather during a demonstration outside the national assembly in Niamey on July 27, 2023.
AFP via Getty Images

Coup in Niger—Has Europe Lost Africa?

Niger soldiers staged a coup to remove President Mohamed Bazoum from power, announced Col. Amadou Abdramane on Wednesday. He said that the military sought to “put an end to the regime due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.” He also urged foreign powers not to intervene and declared that the borders are closed.

On Thursday, insurrectionists set fire to the headquarters building in the capital, Niamey. Support for the coup spread from the presidential guard members to include the military command.

Bazoum was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful transition of power since gaining independence from France over six decades ago. “The hard-won achievements will be safeguarded,” Bazoum wrote on Twitter. “All [Nigerois] who love democracy and freedom will see to it.” Foreign affairs minister Hassoumi Massoudou said, “There was an attempted coup but of course we cannot accept it. We call on all [Niger] democratic patriots to stand up.”

Europe’s last hope: Western influence in Northern Africa has waned greatly in the last few years. One political analyst in Niamey said Bazoum was “almost the only Western ally in the region still standing.” Bazoum fought against jihadist revolts in the Sahel region. He also curbed the number of immigrants using Niger as a transit country to Europe.

France, which has roughly 1,500 soldiers currently deployed in its former colony, called for Bazoum’s immediate release and the reestablishment of his government. Germany has also built a strong military presence in Niger, especially after being ousted from Mali last year.

To shake off Western influence, most countries in the Sahel have turned to other powers to fight their war against terrorism: notably, Russia. The Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization, operates throughout Africa, primarily in Central African Republic, Libya, Mali and Sudan.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin took credit for Wednesday’s coup, stating, “What happened is the struggle of the people of Niger against the colonialists …. This shows the effectiveness of Wagner. A thousand Wagner fighters are able to restore order and destroy terrorists, preventing them from harming the civilian population of states.”

Why do outside powers take such an interest in defending Africa from terrorism? It’s not because of goodwill; it’s because of resources. Africa hosts the largest cobalt, diamond, platinum and uranium reserves in the world. Niger was the world’s seventh-largest producer of uranium last year, according to GlobalData.

Nations spar over Africa because they need its resources. They station troops in Africa to help government allies fight Islamists. Russia’s growing presence in North Africa has been pushing Europe out. To lose Africa would be disastrous for Europe. Meanwhile, Islamist terrorism in the Sahel is surging.

Tides will turn: With the fall of Bazoum, it looks like Europe will forever lose its foothold in the region. But the Sahel region is far too important for Europe to simply walk away. The coup in Niger could be the last straw to show Europe that its military presence in the region needs reinforcing.

Bible prophecy warns of a coming clash between “the king of the south,” radical Islam, led by Iran, and “the king of the north,” a German-led European superpower. (The King of the South, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry, proves these end-time identities in detail.)

Watch Europe. The African policy it has thus far pursued is failing. It may soon need a new strategy.

Learn more: Read The King of the South.